JOHANNESBURG - Speaking at the 11th Annual Competition Law, Economics and Policy Conference, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged some of the best minds from the continent and across the globe who attended the conference.
They have been deliberating on the future of the competition policy during the conference.
Ramaphosa said, "The discussions at this conference are of great significance to the development of our economy and the transformation of our society. Even though the issues with which you have been grappling are often unfamiliar to those outside of the field, they nevertheless have a profound impact on the lives of ordinary people, on the poor and the vulnerable. In a country like South Africa, the attitude, conduct and actions of corporate citizens can be decisive in lifting the majority of our people out of poverty. They can reduce inequality or deepen it."
He went on to discuss what gave rise to price fixing in South Africa. Ramaphosa further said, "When corporate greed gives rise to price fixing, market division and collusive tendering, governments and citizens alike become poorer. It results in a disproportionate share of economic product accruing to a narrow group of companies and individuals. It reduces the economic contribution of many people whose talents, energies and resources would otherwise have been gainfully employed for the greater social good."
Ramaphosa said that the competition policy has a pivotal role to play in redressing the injustices of the past.
"It was to underline this imperative that we declared in the Preamble to the Competition Act that we said that the purpose of the Act is to provide all South Africans equal opportunity to participate fairly in the national economy and to promote employment and advance the social and economic welfare of South Africans. In short, the purpose of the Competition Act is to facilitate economic transformation that is radical, inclusive and sustainable," Ramaphosa said.
We inherited a racially skewed economy that had a few dominant players.
He went on to speak about the dominance in the South African market.
Ramaphosa added, "Market dominance in the South African context, therefore, refers not only to specific sectors in which significant market share has been unfairly captured and retained by a few companies. It refers also to the concentration of ownership and control in the hands of white South Africans, specifically white men."
He said that black South Africans are excluded from exercising control over important economic levers.
"We must therefore measure the effectiveness of our competition policy by the extent to which it contributes to undoing the racial and gender dimensions of economic concentration," he added. He then went on to echo the words of Minister Ebrahim Patel who said that competition policies in South Africa should concern themselves not only with the conduct of companies, but also the structure of the market.